Syria rebels wait to quit enclave on Damascus doorstep

Syria's civil war is far from over

The group added that opposition fighters and their relatives who decide to leave eastern Ghouta will head to rebel-held parts of northern Syria while civilians who choose to stay will be guaranteed safety.

The Bashar al Assad regime and its ally Moscow have implemented a "leave or die" strategy with deadly air strikes on the enclave.

Late on Thursday, the Faylaq al-Rahman group which controls the southern pocket that includes Arbin, said a ceasefire had been agreed from midnight (2200 GMT) to allow negotiations with Russian Federation for an evacuation deal.

Some 80 civilians were reported killed on Thursday in bombardments of the territory held by Faylaq al-Rahman before they sealed a deal for some 7,000 people to leave.

Insurgents in one of those pockets - the town of Harasta - began withdrawing in a convoy of buses for opposition territory in northwestern Syria on Thursday.

The rebel group Faylaq al-Rahman, one of at least three operating in the sprawling region, says intense government attacks targeted the area it controls on Thursday.

Eastern Ghouta was once the most significant opposition bastion on the edge of Damascus, but beleaguered rebels are now left with less than 10% of their onetime stronghold.

State media said Saturday that more than 105,000 civilians had fled Ghouta in recent weeks.

The arrangement is one of two evacuation agreements reached between the warring parties, another being the northwest province of Idlib in an effort to administer to the sick and wounded in these sections and slow the Russian-backed seven-year civil war which has killed more than 1,600 Syrians.

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In his annual report to the United Nations Human Rights Council, Zeid Raad al-Hussein said the government's actions in the area were "legally and morally unsustainable", while warning the next nightmare for Syrian civilians would inevitably arrive soon.

Syrian rebel fighters hand themselves over to regime troops on March 23, 2018, as regime forces move in to the outskirts of Ain Tarma, in the south of eastern Ghouta, after a deal was reached with a rebel group that controlled the area.

More than 4,500 people, including over 1,400 fighters, left for Idlib, state television reported.

"The city of Harasta in eastern Ghouta is free of terrorism", SCMM said referring to opposition fighters that the government refers to as terrorists.

"The humanitarian situation continues to be catastrophic, with no food, emergency items nor medical supplies and outbreaks of disease due to civilians stuck in crowded and insalubrious basements", Faylaq al-Rahman spokesman Wael Alwan told AFP.

The United Nations estimates more than 50,000 people have left besieged areas of eastern Ghouta in the past nearly two weeks.

Activists claimed incendiary bombs were used, as videos showed dark skies light up with white smoke and multiple fires raging on the ground.

Operation Inherent Resolve spokesperson Col. Ryan Dillon told Sputnik that the coalition is limiting its military operations against ISIS in eastern Syria as many Kurdish leaders within the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have left the area to battle the Turkish forces in Afrin.

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